Apache Superset touts itself as an open-source, modern data exploration and visualization platform. Initially, it seems like a valid solution for those seeking a new business intelligence tool. Is it all it’s cracked up to be, though?
Before you decide to give Apache Superset a try, read on to learn more about its capabilities, pros, and cons, so you can decide if it’s worth it for your business intelligence needs.
What Is Apache Superset?
Apache Superset is a business intelligence tool designed to collect and process data in large volumes to help users produce graphs, charts, and other visualizations that aid business growth.
This open-source tool was developed by an Airbnb employee as part of a “hack-a-thon” project. It became part of the Apache Incubator program in 2017 and has gone through many iterations and updates since then.
Apache Superset Capabilities
Apache Superset is a popular business intelligence tool, in part, because of its data visualization and reporting capabilities. The following are some of the most noteworthy ones users can take advantage of:
- Provides dozens of pre-installed visualization options for users to represent data on their dashboards
- Allows users to build custom visualizations
- Integrates with Apache Druid, allowing for faster query performance, real-time responses, and high uptimes
- Allows users to execute SQL queries to explore data
- Uses an extensible security model and integrates with authentication providers like OAuth, OpenID, and LDAP
Apache Superset is supported by a variety of databases, including Google Big Query, Google Sheets, Amazon Redshift, Amazon Athena, MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, and Oracle Database.
Apache Superset Pros
Along with its business intelligence and data visualization capabilities, Apache Superset offers additional benefits that separate it from other tools on the market. Here are some of the most well-known pros:
Open-Source Platform in Apache Superset
Like other Apache products, Superset is an open-source tool that is free for all to use. For those who are working with tight budgets, the accessibility of Apache Superset makes it a particularly appealing option.
Variety of Visualization Options
Apache Superset currently boasts over 40 pre-installed visualization options. It also comes with customization features so that users can create their own data visualization if one of the pre-loaded ones doesn’t align with their vision and needs.
Strong Security Features
It offers users complete control over their data accessibility. They can add users to their databases, provide access, and track their behavior to ensure they’re not using data in nefarious ways.
No Coding Skills Required
You don’t have to know how to code to utilize Apache Superset, which is good news for those seeking a business intelligence tool that doesn’t require a programming background. Business analysts, financial analysts, and other non-coders can use this tool provided they understand the basics of SQL.
App and Web Versions
Apache Superset is available in an app and web version, and each version operates independently. Those seeking a more versatile business intelligence option might be drawn to the convenience of an app- and web-based tool like this one.
Apache Superset Cons
Despite its benefits, Apache Superset is certainly not a perfect solution to your business intelligence needs and challenges. The following are some potential drawbacks you might encounter when using it:
Steep Learning Curve
Although Apache Superset does not require users to have extensive coding knowledge to engage with it, that doesn’t mean it’s not without its challenges.
Many users find that it comes with a steep learning curve, especially compared to other business intelligence tools. It also requires SQL knowledge, which might be out of some users’ scope and can further prevent them from utilizing Superset to its fullest extent.
Difficulty Giving and Viewing Permissions
One of the advantages of Apache Superset is its security features.
However, some have complained that the features that allow users to give permissions and provide access to others are difficult to use. They also note that it’s hard to see who has been granted permissions.
These users would prefer a more seamless process that allows for better collaboration when working on data visualizations and reporting projects.
Limited Options to Join Multiple Tables
Some are frustrated by the lack of an option to join multiple tables when using Apache Superset. The only way to do this is by going view by view, which requires multiple queries. Multiple queries, in turn, can slow things down and interfere with the platform’s performance.
Fewer Advanced Analytics Features
Apache Superset also does not come with as many advanced analytics features.
While it provides solutions for visualization and exploration, it’s not the best solution for those looking to do predictive modeling or carry out complex data analyses. Many users say that it’s best suited for simpler reporting tasks.
Requires Third-Party Connectors
Apache Superset does not connect natively to all the data sources that it integrates with. Because of this, users have to rely on third-party connectors. It can be tedious and time-consuming to set these connections up, which is why many users prefer a solution with more connectors and drivers built-in.
Limited Real-Time Support
As an open-source solution, Apache Superset comes with access to a large community of users who can help with common problems and offer suggestions to get more out of the tool.
The problem with this approach is that it may not provide very efficient, real-time help for those who are looking for a solution right away. Users who want help as soon as a problem arises could get frustrated with the lack of real-time support available to Apache users.
Bottom Line -- Is Apache Superset Worth It?
If you’re looking for a business intelligence tool with a variety of visualization options, plus customization features, Apache Superset could be a good option.
However, it’s important to note that it comes with a steep learning curve, limited out-of-the-box integrations (meaning more work on your end to get it set up exactly as you want it), and limited real-time support (although users do get significant community support that can help them address potential challenges).
If you’re not very tech-savvy, have concerns about deployment and ongoing maintenance, or want access to better real-time support, Apache Superset probably isn’t worth it for your business intelligence needs.
How DashboardFox Can Help
While Apache Superset's open-source appeal might be enticing, it's essential to consider the total cost of ownership. Beyond the immediate price tag, the ongoing costs of developers needed to manage the system and its maintenance can quickly add up.
Why not consider a more affordable, user-friendly alternative? That's where DashboardFox comes in. Unlike Apache Superset, DashboardFox offers a clear and crisply designed user interface that's easy to navigate even for non-technical users. It's a robust solution designed to make your data analytics as straightforward as possible.
Additionally, DashboardFox offers superior customer service, ensuring your queries and difficulties are addressed promptly. Our support team is on hand not just to resolve issues but also to assist you in getting the most out of DashboardFox's features.
Most importantly, with DashboardFox, you won't need to worry about escalating costs as your business grows. Our one-time subscription model offers excellent value for money, allowing you to predict your analytics spend accurately and control your budget effectively.
Why not see DashboardFox in action for yourself? We invite you to try a free live demo session. If you need a more personal touch, feel free to schedule a meeting with our team. See the difference DashboardFox can make to your business analytics today!